DESCRIBING THE ninth-inning home run that beat the Yankees in the 1960 World Series in an Oct. 23, 2000, SI article, the former Pirate Bill Mazeroski (above) recalled his own boyhood fantasies: "It was the seventh game of the World Series ... then you hit the home run. I was no different from any other boy doing that." Except, he added, "I got to do it in real life."... Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar (above, left) beat the A's with a walk-off homer last month. "For six, seven, eight seconds, it's the highest high you can experience on a baseball field," he says. "There's only one bad thing: the beating you get [at the plate]. Everyone's jumping around, celebrating. You get punched, you get grabbed. You get your hair pulled."... Orioles left-fielder Larry Bigbie recalls a 10th-inning homer that beat the Indians last season. "It was a long game, and it was really late," he says. "I stepped into the box, and the catcher went out to talk to the pitcher. The umpire jokingly said, 'Man, would you just end this so we can all go home?' I said, 'Believe me, I'm trying.' I hit the homer and, coming around the bases, I winked at the umpire. He started laughing."... On Mexican Mother's Day (May 10), Devil Rays infielder Jorge Cantu told his mother, "Mom, I'm going to hit one for you." Then, with Adriana watching on TV from Mexico, Jorge hit a solo shot to beat the White Sox 7--6. Says Cantu, "The whole way around the bases I was thinking about my mom. Thank God I didn't trip. I was feeling a little weak-legged."... Royals right-fielder Matt Stairs has hit five walk-off homers. "You pimp a little bit at home [after you hit it]," he says. "The high five with the first base coach is more forceful than usual. You come around third base, and you see your teammates ready to pound you. There's that great pounding at home plate. It's almost like a barroom brawl."... "You come up, and the last thing you're thinking about is the home run," says Tigers first baseman Carlos Pe√±a (left),who has three walk-offs. "All of a sudden it happens, and it's the best feeling. On the way around the bases I tell myself to slow down. To look around. Enjoy it. The next thing you know you're at home plate, and people are banging on you. It feels like you sprinted around the bases."... The Pirates' Rob Mackowiak (above, right) hit a walk-off grand slam to beat the Cubs on May 28 of last year, nine hours after the birth of his son, Garrett. "All those emotions are going through your head," he says. "I was yelling as I was running around the bases. I was so excited, I didn't even know what I was saying."... The best thing about a game-winning shot? Says Cardinals outfielder Reggie Sanders (right), who has hit three, "You get to go home."
HARRY HARRIS/AP (MAZEROSKI)
¬†"From the time I hit second base, I don't think I touched the ground the rest of the way home."--BILL MAZEROSKI,Pirates Second Baseman¬†
ROB TRINGALI/SPORTSCHROME (MILLAR)
TOM DIPACE (PE√±A)
JOHN A. RIZZO/PHOTODISC GREEN/GETTY IMAGES (CAKE)
CHRIS BERNACCHI/SPORTPICS (MACKOWIAK)
BILL GREENBLATT/UPI (SANDERS)